Review: Baita Piè Tofana, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Dining whilst skiing is hit and miss – mountain restaurants worth merit are often hard to come by with many milking the tourist trade. However, many of the rifugios (huts) lining the pistes of Cortina d’Ampezzo offer some truly exceptional Northern Italian cuisine, allowing you to indulge in the afternoon sunshine in your grubby ski clothes!

Much has been written about Baita Piè Tofana in travel guides and blogs and its modern take on mountain cuisine is highly regarded. Situated at Rumerlo the restaurant is easily accessed by car or from the slopes.

Baita Piè Tofana is exceptional. Eating there twice during our stay confirmed the food was not only the best in the mountains but perhaps the best in Cortina. Service was friendly and professional and the atmosphere sublime – nothing quite compares to enjoying elegant cuisine at the side of a mountain, basking in the sunshine in your bulky ski clothes. Be sure to sit on the terrace outside: if it does start to get a little chilly waiters are quickly dispatched with blankets and patio heaters.

Baita Piè Tofana - Scallops

 

Little fault could be picked with any of the food. A special of Scallops was no exception. Simply baked in the shell with a little rosemary and panko breadcrumbs, the crunchy breadcrumbs were a great counterpoint to the soft scallop and a hint of crisp rosemary lurking at the bottom of each shell was an aromatic wonder.

Foie Gras terrine was served with a crunchy but not too sweet walnut and caramelised pear salad and brioche-like bread which tasted exactly like monster munch (much more delicious than it sounds). Rich and comforting – perfect for undoing all that good skiing exercise!

Baita Piè Tofana - Oxtail Ravioli

 

Homemade ravioli of oxtail with caramelised onions is one of the most glorious things I have ever eaten. Perfectly thin pasta surrounding sticky, sweet braised oxtail capped off with caramelised onions which were neither too sweet nor bitter. This was the food I had come to Italy to experience.

Baita Piè Tofana - Beetroot Ravioli

 

The local speciality is beetroot ravioli and various variations can be found at the majority of restaurants in town. At Baita Piè Tofana the sweet, earthy morsels bathed in a poppy seed and butter sauce finished with parmesan and black pepper. The poppy seeds and parmesan stopping the ravioli from being overly sweet.

Baita Piè Tofana - Rabbit

 

Ordering rabbit was met with responses of “rodger…rodger the rabbit” from the waiters – thankfully this did not put me off. Leg rolled and stuffed with liver was tender with the liver irony fresh. Roasted rack and foreleg was equally as soft and the accompanying sauce gamey and sweet. Served with some of the most butter laden mash I have eaten, this was a delicious plate.

Fillet steak with speck was perfectly cooked with a nice charred exterior, the speck not too salty or overpowering as can often be the case.

Suckling pig loin, with a strong porky flavour was served with beautifully crisp roast potatoes and fried red onions. Osso Bucco with saffron risotto was very good – a huge chunk of veal shin braised so long its fibres were strewn throughout the rich sauce.

Baita Piè Tofana - Ginger Dessert

 

Dessert of ginger ice cream in an amazingly thin basket with dried crisps of fruit may have been too fiery for some, but was a soothing accompaniment to the baking afternoon sun.

Mousse of passionfruit and raspberry was ridiculously light, the lightest mousse imaginable. Served in a tall martini glass, the sharpness of passionfruit and raspberry was curtailed by a sweet yogurty top layer.

Baita Piè Tofana  - Chocolate Fondue

 

Chocolate fondue was the ultimate finish to a decadent lunch – the fresh fruit making me feel slightly less guilty about the three rich preceding courses!

Baita Piè Tofana is the ultimate mountain restaurant. Beautiful food in comforting surroundings which succeed in making you feel warm and welcome – I only wish this level of cooking adorned the side of every piste!

Baita Piè Tofana, Cortina d’Ampezzo

www.baitapietofana.it

Food (For Four): €200

Dress Code: Casual

Reservations: Recommended, Essential during Peak Season

Recommended: Yes

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Review: Restaurant Tivoli, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Restaurant Tivoli

 

Cortina d’Ampezzo is not your typical ski resort. Whilst the skiing is good and plentiful, this small town in the centre of the Dolomites is famed for its reputation as a culinary hotspot – where the skis are left behind in favour of wining and dining.

Tivoli, the only michelin-starred restaurant in town, is prized for its creative take on classic mountain dishes. The quaint and intimate dining room, adorned with wood and chintzy charm is a short 10 minute drive from the centre of town – just next to Socrepes. Visiting off-season meant a table was easy to secure and the dining room was only half-full – I am assured this is not the case during the height of season.

Service was good – a meet and greet from the chef and well-informed and personable front of house. The acting Sommelier was great and carried the waiting staff when the language barrier raised issues. Praise must be given for the choice of red wine glasses – their fluted tops and bulging middles were glorious!

Too much mountain eating meant the six course tasting menu was off the cards – four courses from the extensive à la carte proved more than sufficient.

Restaurant Tivoli - Foie Gras

 

A selection of foie gras to start would easily have fed all four of us. A light foie gras mousse with raspberry gel was perfectly balanced – sharp and sweet and was delicious spread across the accompanying sweet bread which had the faintest whiff of pickled onion. This alone would have made a great dish. Foie Gras terrine with bitter mandarin was good as were the accompanying berry compotes. The hot liver on toast was a little uninspiring although perfectly cooked and the sliced, cold liver seemed superfluous. Although well executed and tasty, the dish was too indulgent even for me (a foie gras fiend with an overly-healthy appetite).

Deep fried egg with spinach, dried tomatoes and cream sauce was good. Perhaps a little too much spinach and not enough sauce, the perfectly cooked egg was the predominant flavour.

Restaurant Tivoli - Risotto

 

Risotto of morel mushrooms, truffles and black pepper was very light. Despite a plentiful topping of morels and truffle sauce, the risotto tasted incredibly light and was well cooked although failed to pack enough of a mushroom and truffle punch.

Homemade spaghettini with crab was good. The crab fresh and the pasta bound with a rich shellfish stock – perfectly seasoned. Although a few stray pieces of shell did put me off a little.

Restaurant Tivoli - Lobster

 

Lobster with rice was the least favourite dish of the evening. The rice was a little undercooked and the lobster a little over and under-seasoned. The lobster jus was good but there was too little on the plate. The rice failed to deliver flavour and was not befitting of the mighty crustacean.

Restaurant Tivoli - Venison

 

Mountain Deer was the finest piece of venison we had ever eaten. Cooked sous vide – the fillet was perfectly rare and incredibly tender. The accompanying celeriac purée was very well made but overpowered the venison, as did the mustard sauce which proved too pungent. The quality of venison could have made for a magnificent dish had it been allowed to shine through.

Veal Loin was served with cured and slow-cooked cheek and shin. The loin very tender and flavoursome, the cheek and shin could have done with more cooking and less curing. Veal jus was light and flavoursome and the Robuchon-esque mashed potato delightful.

Pork belly with beetroot was very simple. The pork was well-cooked but the skin would have benefitted from extra crisping. With only a little beetroot, light jus and two roast potatoes to accompany the dish was too simple and unexciting.

Dinner at Tivoli was a rewarding experience and made a pleasing change to numerous dinners of hearty mountain cuisine. Whilst some dishes failed to inspire, others outshone dishes served at other top restaurants in the area. The origin of the restaurant’s dishes are most definitely in the mountain and you will see similar dishes at other restaurants. However, few others execute these dishes with the lightness of touch that is achieved at Tivoli. Whether visiting Cortina for ski or après-ski be sure to visit.

Restaurant Tivoli, Cortina d’Ampezzo

www.ristorantetivolicortina.it

Food (For Four): €350

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Reservations: Recommended, Essential during Peak Season

Recommended: Yes